October brings happy activities such as Halloween, pumpkin patches, and hay rides. However, October also brings attention to a darker subject as well. October is depression awareness month and the St. Ambrose counseling center is gearing up to inform the campus community.
“The reality of depression,” Steve Tendall, director of the SAU counseling center, said, “is probably half or more of all college students at some point will experience depression to the extent that it is hard for them to function.”
Many pressures fall on students such as learning to live with others, dealing with a college-level class load, and making and losing friends.
Steve Tendall has worked at SAU for 21 years. He sits in a comfortable office filled with soft couches, potted greenery, and framed motivational signs.
The counseling center sponsors Active Minds, a student-led group whose mission is to raise awareness of mental illness. Over the past several years, Active Minds and the Psychology Club have participated in the national depression screening. The screening will be held this year on October 24 in the Rogalski Center and the cafeteria.
“Students can take free screenings to see how they would register on a depression instrument. If they score at a certain level, then there would be someone for them to talk to about maybe having their score interpreted or setting up an appointment,” Tendall said.
Signs of depression include lack of pleasure or interest, a sad or ‘blue’ feeling that persists for more than a couple weeks, a break in normal routine, difficulty focusing or a drop in class attendance.
Depression is not unusual on campus.
“A lot of these issues put stressors on our coping skills, and some students’ coping skills are better than others,” Tendall says.
He adds that girls come through more often than guys because they are more comfortable coming in to talk about their feelings and problems than guys.
The counseling center offers their services to students dealing with stress, anxiety or depression. Tendall encourages talking to people, seeing campus counselors or the campus ministry. Off-campus support that the SAU counseling center can refer students to includes other counselors, psych testing and evaluation for psychiatric medication.
This time of year is common for students to come to the counseling center due to homesickness.
“Over half of new student seminar students [are] indicating they are homesick,” Tendall says.
Tendall says sources of depression are often environmental—a break up, sexual assault, parents’ divorce or sickness.
“Most depression will take of itself through talking and some cognitive work,” Tendall says.